Infrared Photography Artist Feature: Daniel Stewart

I’m a Revelstoke, British Columbia based action sports photographer with a growing interest in infrared photography. I mainly shoot editorial and commercial style skiing, snowboarding, whitewater kayaking, and mountain biking, contributing my photos to industry-leading magazines like Ski, Slush (snowboard), and Beta (bike). I also work for brands such as Quiksilver, Nitro Snowboards, and Oakley.

When it comes to my photography, it’s the culmination of many things coming together to make these magic moments happen. The athletes I work with are some of the best in the world at what they do, and it’s an honour to capture and document some of their defining moments. I’m inspired by the beautiful, sacred places we immerse ourselves in. I’m also motivated to push my limits to new ends and hopefully inspire others in the process. 

Infrared photography has been a really refreshing take for me! To see the world in a way we can’t see with our naked eye gives a sense of wonder and makes you question what the scene may look like until you actually see the end result. I also like the creativity you can explore with IR, playing with hues and processes in ways that you don’t generally get to do with traditional colour photography.

I’m not really sure what exactly turned me on to infrared. I know it was the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and I was starting to see some trippy landscape photos on Instagram. I wasn’t too excited about some of the images, but some blew me away with what I thought were tasteful uses of colour manipulation—I believe they were from Lorenz Holder and Paolo Pettigiani. I learned that they were infrared shots, and I instantly needed to know more.

I also asked myself why this style wasn’t used for more action photography. That took me down the rabbit hole, so to speak, and I learned about the rich history of infrared photography, such as its origins with Aerochrome film along with the fast-paced current evolution in the digital sphere. In my spare time, I would research more and more as to how I could potentially make some infrared shots work for action. About a year later (May 2021), I got my first camera modified—a used Nikon D810 with a Kolari 550nm filter applied onto the sensor—and upon delivery, I went to town experimenting and learning how to process the photos.

I managed to shoot some really interesting shots in the spring and early summer and instantly had some great reception on what I was doing. I got a photo published in a prominent whitewater kayaking magazine right away and got a few of my images selected as semi-finalists in the 2021 Redbull Illume Photo Contest. That’s when I knew that this side obsession of mine wasn’t just a crazy pipe dream.

In the beginning, I was obsessed with the 550nm filter on my D810. It gave me the Aerochrome effect I desired, but it was also incredibly difficult to nail the shot as you could only focus the DSLR using Live View in the back. Recently I had my backup Nikon Z6 converted to Full Spectrum and am using the Kolari Clip-In Filters, and my go-to right now is the IR Chrome Lite Filter. Shooting is so much easier now—the processing comes out beautifully right out of the camera, and focusing is way easier with a mirrorless body. Skin tones are great for portraits as well. Editors love it as they can then see what processing has been done in the DNG files, which allows me a higher chance for publication.

I’ve also started to play with the Iridium Filter and am having fun with it. It’s like using a 720nm filter without having to channel swap in post. It’s also really fun to use it with my unconverted Z9 as it enhances the colour tones in certain scenes. Last but not least, I also use the UV/IR Cut Hot Mirror Pro 2 filter if I need my Full Spectrum Z6 to be working in ‘regular’ light again. It can then be used as my backup on regular non-IR shoots. 

Currently, I’m using all Nikon gear. I am using an unconverted Z9 and a Full Spectrum Z6. My two main lenses, a 24-120mm and 100-400mm, are not primes but are there to cover all my desired focal lengths in a small, nimble package for backcountry use. Depending on the shoot, I will add my 14-24mm 2.8, 16mm fisheye, 50mm 1.4, or 105mm macro. I also use an Elinchrom ELB-1200 if I need light, and if I’m getting wet, I’ve been using underwater housing. 

This journey into the world of IR and UV has been so wild, and it continues to deliver. I am so thankful to Kolari for giving me a platform to share my work and journey. Their products have allowed me to expand my photographic creativity beyond my wildest imagination, and I am so excited to share more.

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